Category Archives: Environment

Myanmar to use New Hydrocarbon Production for Domestic Needs


Nay Pyi Taw: In what may affect the energy security plans pursued by India and China in Myanmar, the resource-rich nation has made a precondition of its domestic demand being met before any exports are allowed. This will be incorporated in all future productionsharing contracts Myanmar plans to sign.

“Earlier natural gas was sold to the neighbouring countries as there was no significant domestic demand.Our new policy is that natural resources will be reserved for domestic demand. If there is a surplus, then we will value add and export. The idea is to meet domestic demand first,” U. Htin Aung, Myanmar’s deputy energy minister, said at a press conference on Thursday.

This comes in the backdrop of the Myanmar government receiving 75 expressions of interest for its bids called for 18 onshore blocks for exploration.

Of these it has shortlisted 59 companies for the submission of final bids. Also, the government plans to award another 30 off shore blocks. The country holds 7.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas. Contracts already signed will not be affected.

“The new rounds that we are offering has a provision that states that production is meant for first meeting the domestic demand. It is part of the agreement. The ones which we have already signed, for them we have to meet our commitments for our reputation,” Htin Aung said. Some of the Indian companies interested in these blocks are state owned ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), Oil India Ltd and private firms such as Jubilant Energy NV and Cairn India Ltd. more…

Inle Lake to Enlist as Biosphere Reserve

Surveys had been undertaken by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding the enlistment of the Inle Lake as a sustainable development and biosphere reserve for conservation, Eleven Media news reported. According to Sein Tun, administrator of Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary the nature of biosphere reserve is to cooperate in solving livelihood issues of the locals while making conservation works. Businessmen, volunteers and local residents are needed to cooperate and support in conserving the Inle Lake.

The Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1985. It is known as Myanmar’s major tourist spots and considered as one of ASEAN heritages. Situated between Pinlaung and Pehkon Townships of Southern Shan State, Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is also one of the biggest wetland in Southeast Asia with an area of 247.435 square miles. Official statistics show that the sanctuary has 59 species of fishes, 3 species of turtles, 94 species of butterflies, 12 species of mammals, 25species of amphibians and 287 species of birds. Some of the contributory factors why in recent years the Inle Lake has gradually deteriorated is because of the over usage of insecticides and chemical fertilisers, the impact of climate change, the surface area of the lake on dry season and deforestation, the report said. more…

Myanmar Rises to the Challenge of Environmental Conservation

Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River, January 2013. | photo: flickr/francisco anzola
Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River, January 2013. | Photo: flickr/Francisco Anzola

President Thein Sein’s decision in September 2011 to suspend construction on the Myitsone Dam at the headwaters of the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar’s northern Kachin State signaled the rise of a significant environmental movement in the country. Indeed, President Sein cited public opinion as a main factor in his decision. Over the past year, environmental groups have challenged a number of other development projects, including the Dawei Special Economic Zone and the Letpadaung copper mine near Monywa. Protection of the country’s rich biodiversity and relatively clean environment has rapidly emerged as a key national interest in the face of a potential surge in economic investment and development following recent economic and political reforms.

With the gradual development of a free press and expanded access to information, the country’s population has become increasingly aware of its unique biodiversity and valuable natural resources. The desire to protect these assets has become a sentiment dear to virtually all sectors of the population and is reflected in the policies and laws being considered by both the executive and legislative branches of the government. The new foreign investment law, for example, requires environmental impact assessments for all major development projects. Further, the parliament recently proposed the establishment of an Ayeyarwady River Commission to ensure the conservation of the country’s main water artery, whose sub-basins house a large percentage of the country’s biodiversity “hot spots.”

But this is only a start — recent measures being taken by the government to protect the environment are baby steps. more…

A Chance for Green Growth in Myanmar

Photo: Alliance/ Arco Imagesgmbh
Photo: Alliance / Arco Imagesgmbh

When it comes to the environment, Myanmar has the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes, environmental experts said during the last week of November at the Green Growth and Green Economic Forum in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon.

“Myanmar has the chance to do things differently,” said the World Wildlife Fund’s Greater Mekong representative Stuart Chapman. “The government is thinking of different ways towards green growth.” Dismissing rapid development as “a short-term game”, Mr Chapman said, “Green growth means being careful about … minimising impact on natural capital. The more conservative approach, being careful about building infrastructure, gives longterm opportunities and benefits.”

He said climate change, which is already affecting Southeast Asia, is another factor that could affect natural capital.

“Parts of Southeast Asia will get hotter and wetter. It will be more subject to large-scale climatic variation. The approach to energy, security and food security will be hugely different,” he said.

Daw Lat Lat Aye, UNDP team leader for disaster risk reduction and the environment, said achieving sustainable development depended on the balance between economic, environmental and social systems. The impact of Cyclone Nargis, which left a swathe of death and destruction in 2008, was exacerbated by the loss of natural forest cover and coastal vegetation due to the conversion of the land for paddy cultivation and the over-exploitation of fisheries, she said. more…

Myanmar Losing Forests at Fast Pace, say Reports

Myanmar is facing galloping deforestation, losing forests to oil palm and rubber plantations, while the mangroves of its Irrawaddy Delta have shrunk in area by a whopping 64.2 per cent in 33 years, two new reports have shown.

Deforestation In The Ayeyarwady Delta And The Conservation Implications Of An Internationally Engaged Myanmar – a study by the National University of Singapore (NUS) – said an average of 51 sq km of mangroves a year were lost from 1978 to 2011. Thus, the Irrawaddy Delta’s mangroves shrank from 2,623 sq km to 938 sq km in that period.

The study, published on November 21 in the online journal Global Environmental Change, used cutting-edge technology to map the depleting mangroves.

It noted that unlike in the Mekong Delta where mangroves have been destroyed by aquaculture, in the Irrawaddy Delta, they were lost to harvesting for fuel wood and conversion into paddy fields. Aquaculture is still almost non-existent in the area.

The delta has a population of close to eight million. But it is also an area of high biodiversity, with more than 30 endangered species, the report said.

The mangroves also act as a buffer against sea-level rise and the kind of storm surge during Cyclone Nargis in 2008 that killed 130,000 people in the region. more…

Illegal Selling of Ivory in Myanmar: Elephants the Silent Victims


Myanmar is believed to have the second largest elephant population in the world after India, with an estimated 6,000 left in the wild.Cambridge-based wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and Oxford Brookes University have accused Myanmar of failing to protect elephants, after finding more than 3,300 ivory pieces and nearly 50 raw ivory elephant tusks, openly for sale in the Myanmar town of Mong La on the Chinese border.

Vol6_InlineText02Tucked into the verdant forests of Myanmar’s eastern Shan State, Mong La is better known here by its Chinese name, Xiaomengla, in part because the vast majority of its residents are Chinese, as are most of the illegal daytrippers, drug mules and youngsters who work in the city’s 20 casinos, most of which are Chinese-owned.It has now become one of the biggest unregulated markets for ivory and endangered wildlife in Asia.Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Myanmar has laws forbidding trade in endangered species, but violations are rampant, especially in remote border regions.

As the current Chair of ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), a regional inter agency and inter-governmental initiative to counter the illegal cross-border trade in endangered plants and animals, Myanmar would be looked to set an example by putting an end to illegal trading in ivory.

Analysts say that China must also play its part too in helping the authorities in Myanmar carry out this essential enforcement action.

Dawei Village to Sue Over Tin Mine Pollution

Residents of Myaung Pyo village in Tanintharyi Region have filed a lawsuit against a Thai Corporation and the Ministry of Mines, demanding compensation for damages caused by the nearby Heinda mining project.

Residents of Myaung Pyo village in Tanintharyi Region have filed a lawsuit against a Thai Corporation and the Ministry of Mines, demanding compensation for damages caused by the nearby Heinda mining project.

The Burmese authorities have warned the Heinda mining company, operating east of Tavoy, in southern Burma to improve and contain their work practices, that have destroyed villager’splantations, or their mining operation would be stopped.

Poppy Plantations Destroyed to Prevent Opium Production

Myanmar, Southeast Asia’s largest opium-poppy growing country, has destroyed a total of 12,774 hectares of poppy plantations, 20 percent of the total of 507,800 hectares, across the country.

In October 2013, the authorities spoiled 5,019 hectares of poppy plantations in Shan and Kayah states. The Shan State remains the center of Myanmar’s opium producing area, accounting for 90 percent of opium poppy cultivation.

To curb such illicit activities, the government has extended its 15-year drug elimination plan (1999-2014) to 2019 and has also implemented alternative development projects in the areas of poppy cul t iva t ion in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC) and the governments of Thailand and China.

Environmental Impact: A Top Concern for Myanmar’s Gas Pipelines


Environmental protection is a top concern in the construction of the natural gas pipeline in Myanmar.

Myanmar-China pipeline spans central Myanmar, with unloading points at Kyaukphyu in Rakhine state, Yenanchaung in Magway and Thaungtha in Mandalay. Myanmar will receive 2.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from the pipeline.

The major cause of worry of a possible leak in the pipeline has been put to rest, with energy officials, having preinstalled supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Since its inception, the construction process and the environmental protection measures have been developed in strict compliance with international standards, owing to the inflow of foreign investment.

An in-depth look into a number of factors such as geology, climate, air, noise, water quality, hydrology, animals and plants will be provided by the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.

EIA also identifies feasible solutions for mitigating or preventing the potential effects of the proposed projects on the environment.

The Myanmar-China Pipeline Watch Committee is continuing to press the issue of compensation, for land acquired by the pipeline operators. The committee comprises of 25 civil society groups active in 21 townships. So far, there has been no environmental pollution or ecological damage accident.